I had an idea, and I wanted to chase it down. Most of my adventures begin in similar fashion. Lately, I’ve been going on walks to think, take calls, stretch my legs or have a chat with someone. I’m grateful that the Tunewelders studio is on the BeltLine in the Old 4th Ward neighborhood of Atlanta.
The BeltLine is the manifestation of a crazy idea that evolved from the master’s thesis of a Georgia Tech student into the veritable connective tissue of the city. The paved walkway connects the neighborhoods, communities and people of Atlanta in more than mere logistical fashion. Since the invention of the automobile, we have been moving farther away from each other. A person walking occupies roughly ten square feet, while the same person driving in a car occupies almost ten times that space. We are trading efficiency for personal connection every time we jump in the car and commute to work. Could the buffer provided by cars actual dilute our connection to each other? If we closed this gap, would it lead to more empathy and understanding?
Back to my idea … On my walks, I would pass a drummer (Kermit Walker) performing near our studio on the BeltLine. He wasn’t performing anything prepared or even seeking attention. It was far deeper than that. He laid down a basic groove that you probably wouldn’t give a second thought in the context of a song with other instruments, melody, harmony and a story all squashed down to MP3 format.
What I found fascinating was how I reacted to this simple groove. Kermit was scoring the experience of walking on the BeltLine, and in the process he was connecting everyone for a small moment in time.
Natural elements are constantly seeking equilibrium. Subatomic particles with spin-up and spin-down characteristics collide and create, while the molecules of air in our atmosphere all seem to be coordinated in a thoughtful yet elusive dance. As I walked toward the sound of Kermit’s drums, my footsteps found the cadence of his kick and snare. My inner swagger was coaxed from the protective confines of my ego by the syncopated pulse of his right hand on the hi-hat. My walk changed. A smile snuck onto my face, and my eyes connected directly with Kermit’s eyes. He smiled back with the clever inner workings of a teacher eager to share one of the secrets of the world. In that small moment, he reminded me of the importance of analog connections in a digital world. Impressive technology and innovation promises efficiency and exponential connectivity, but it comes at the cost of those connections that make us who we are. Kermit reminded me of two things. Rhythm is our nature, and it can be the vehicle to bring us back to our humanity and the collective experience.
Art is how we process and explain the world in our own terms. It is how we connect to each other through experiences. Through it we share small moments to observe and exist in the present moment. Art is everywhere. The idea began to unfold further. I wanted to document those small moments where creators put something into the world without expectation, and in the process they bring us all a little closer together.
I wanted to share Kermit’s story and how it inspired me on a larger scale. I pitched it to my friends at Arts ATL and they graciously accepted. Thanks Arts ATL for indulging my crazy idea. While Art Is Everywhere may not reach the scale of the Atlanta BeltLine, it is out of my head and into the world. Now, I’d like to share it with you.
If you’d like to see more stories like these, drop me a comment or reach out to Arts ATL.